May 3 Thursday
My last day at the Alliance. On my way, I prepared what I would say about today’s significance: May 3,1918, the 50th anniversary of the 1968 French Revolution.
The class began with the teacher asking how we spent our holiday. I began by connecting my Paris Walk about the 1789 revolution to the May 3, 1968 revolution. He looked confused. I repeated, “C’est le cinquantieme anniversaire de la revolution du 3 mai 1968.” “Ah, oui, oui” he replied and quickly moved on to another student. Is he is too young for it to have any significance? I dismissed that notion since the government almost collapsed under the protests. Perhaps the policy of the Alliance is to not engage in political discussions.
After class, a student from Ireland and I discussed staying at the Irish College when our teacher joined us as we lamented the high cost of living in Paris. He was very open about his salary, which if I heard right, is around 20,000 euros a year, amazingly low. He has to share an apartment in the 11th arrondissement in order to make ends meet. I asked him about improving my French and self deprecatingly referred to my lack of progress. He assured me I speak well but lack confidence and kissed me on both cheeks in a friendly good-bye which warmed me considerably.
My task after class was to buy gifts for my two nieces, 7 and 10. There are a cluster of children’s stores off Blvd Raspail on Rue Vavin and Rue Brea. I found the perfect shop, just candy. Candy in charming metal boxes. Les petits magasins of Paris delight me, for just socks, for just parapluies, for just nostalgically boxed candy.
On my way home, I passed Emile and Jules where Rue Vavin meets Rue d’Assas in front of Le Jardin du Luxembourg. I have frequently pasted my face against their window, looking longingly at the breads, brioches, croissants, and sandwiches. Today, I finally entered and choose a small whole grain baguette filled with salad nicoise.
I dined next to Baudelaire in the le jardin. The sandwich was delicious, but unwieldy. I managed to drop a significant amount on my lap. After a half hour, I gave up, chucked the remains, and headed back home.
As I passed the lawn at Place Andre Honnorat, students were strewn across it’s expanse. Usually, in Paris parks, it is “Pelouse Interdite.” No sitting on the grass. Is this their way of remembering May 3, 1968? Not much at stake, not like their predecessors. When I looked more closely, the sign read “Pelouse Authorisee.” C’est vrai?
This was the night for L’Estrapade, the restaurant at the end of my street. When I opened the door, I hadn’t much hope: it’s 12 or so tables were full. However, the wait person assured me she would find me a place. She managed to seat me and another couple check to jowl. In order to use la toilette, I had to ask a diner to get up, had difficulty squeezing by, and then had to go through the same embarrassment on my way back to my table.
I went all out. First, l’entrée, la terrine de foie de volaille, next, le plat, le magret de canard aux clémentines, and finally, le dessert, la tarte tatin, the meal accompanied by un pichet de vin. Most satisfying. And later, out my bedroom window, the Pantheon.